UK trailing behind Europe and US in 4G usage 


British mobile users use WiFi to connect to the web almost three times as much as they use 4G

People in the UK are connecting to the web on their phones via WiFi almost three times more frequently than on 4G, according to new research by mobile data platform Ogury.

But, with the UK telecoms regulator setting a timetable for the launch of 5G services by 2020, Ogury is calling for the telecoms industry to consider, is the UK ready for 5G? The study, based on the data of over one million UK mobile profiles, examined the networks used to connect to the internet over a month-long period.

While the National Infrastructure Commission recently reported that a typical Brit can access 4G 53% of the time, Ogury finds that in reality, mobile users are connecting via 4G on average just 18.18% of the time, relying on WiFi for 71.01% of their browsing time.

The data finds that the UK is trailing behind the US (46.08% 4G usage), France (30.34%), and both Spain and Italy (20.46% and 20.3% respectively).

Christophe Bize, VP of data and mobile analytics at Ogury, commented: “UK mobile users currently rely on WiFi for the vast majority of their connections. Whether this is because of poor 4G availability, personal preference or even cost, it does not bode well for 5G.”

In some areas of the UK, the outlook is even bleaker for 4G usage. Scotland’s Highlands and Islands are, as might be expected, amongst the worst performing, with just 6.26% of mobile connectivity made via 4G. Wales follows at 8.58%; North Eastern Scotland at 9.46%; the South West of England at 9.59% and Northern Ireland at 9.71%.

In contrast, mobile users within the Greater London area spend an average of 28.02% of time connected to 4G, the highest in the UK. Londoners are least likely to connect via WiFi, with mobile users in the area spending an average of 54.72% of their connected device time this way, compared to the UK average of 71.01%.

The high WiFi usage of Scottish (81%) and Welsh (84.68%) users could be attributed to the poor availability and speed of 4G. However, Ogury found that mobile users in Northern Ireland are the most likely to connect via WiFi (using it for 86.14% of connection time), despite having excellent availability and download speeds, according to a recent study by OpenSignal. This could be due to Northern Ireland, and particularly Belfast’s, growing reputation as a tech hub.

Findings were based on a month long study during January 2017 conducted by Ogury of eight million mobile users across the UK, France, Italy, Spain and the US, including more than one million users within the UK.


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